tag: Implanted Memories

Retreat Syndrome

The Eye of the Sibyl and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick
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First published in Worlds Of Tomorrow Jan 1965

John Cupertino gets stuck in a psychotic loop (with a great deal of hostility directed at his wife) as a way of coping with the fact he inadvertently thwarted Ganymede’s attempt to revolt against Terran colonization by informing his wife of the plans.

Cast of characters

  • Caleb Myers – officer who first pulls over the speeding Cupertino
  • John Cupertino – our psychotic protagonist
  • Carol Cupertino – John Cupertino’s wife
  • Dr. Gottlieb Hagopian – Cupertino’s psychiatrist
  • Dr. Edgar Green – Six-planet Educational Enterprise’s psychologist

We Can Remember It for You Wholesale

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First published in Fantasy & Science Fiction Apr 1966

“We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” might be my favorite title of any PKD story.

Douglas Quail dreams of an exciting trip to Mars, but since he can’t afford it on his Earth salary he settles for the next best thing, a session at Rekall, Incorporated which promises to implant a memory of a visit to Mars indistinguishable from the actual experience. During the procedure we find out he’s already been to Mars as an undercover agent after which his memory was wiped. Once aware of the truth he has to deal with the Interplan officers who want him dead.

Anyone who has seen Total Recall knows the premise. The Schwarzenegger movie, another of Dick’s best-known adaptations, heads off in a different direction from the telegraphed ending of the short story. I understand the interest in an updated film that differs from the Paul Verhoeven 90s time capsule, but watching the 2012 remake starring Colin Ferrell is a boring chore.

Again (as he did in The Penultimate Truth) Dick makes use of the real-life address of his literary agent at 580 Fifth Avenue in New York, this time as the main barracks of Interplan.

Cast of characters

  • Douglas Quail – our protagonist
  • Kristen Quail – Douglas’s wife
  • McClane – Rekall, Inc. supervisor
  • Lowe – Rekall, Inc. technician

Imposter

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First published in Astounding Science Fiction Jun 1953

During a war with Alpha Centauri on Earth Spencer Olham is captured by the government under suspicion of being an alien masquerading as a human. He escapes and attempts to prove his innocence, but it turns out he was this alien imposter all along and didn’t know it.

Dick had written nearly fifty short stories at this point as he really starts to dig into ‘what is human?’ a question he would spend a lot of time with in his later books and stories.

Gary Sinise stars in a 2002 movie, but there’s not much to recommend about such a dull adaptation… at least they kept the ending.

Cast of characters

  • Spencer Olham – part of a team developing a weapon to use against the alien invaders
  • Mary – Spencer’s wife
  • Nelson – works with Olham
  • Major Peters – member of government security